RSSAll Entries Tagged With: "margaret gray"

The cast of "Everything You Touch" at Boston Court. Photo: Ed Krieger.

EVERYTHING YOU TOUCH: 72% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET The performances, particularly of the two leads, are confident, nuanced and memorable. And the rich sensory feast Kubzansky and her team have served up — which also includes lighting by Jeremy Pivnick, sound by John Zalewski and witty props by John Burton — is a powerful reminder of why beauty, heartless though it may [...]

Austin Rodgers and Mark Bramhall in "White Marriage" at the Odyssey Theatre. Photo by Enci Box.

WHITE MARRIAGE (ODYSSEY THEATRE): 67% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Performances from the strong 11-member company are first rate, and Sossi directs his cast to play the lengthy, absurdist drama for maximum laughs. Yet there is a dark and disturbing undercurrent flowing beneath the allegorical farce that only fully emerges in the play’s final, devastating moments. What’s missing throughout is a sense of rising [...]

Keith David and Byron J. Smith (background in "Paul Robeson," at the Ebony Repertory Theatre. Photo: Craig Schwartz.

PAUL ROBESON (EBONY REP): 75% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET The least effective scene is an unnecessarily thorough reenactment of Robeson’s appearance before the House Un-American Activities Committee, with Smith asking the questions from the piano bench. The slack direction and unfocused storytelling render a potentially dynamic sequence tedious, bombastic and repetitive. The reliance on history that charges “Paul Robeson” ultimately proves its undoing. [...]

"Henry V" at Pacific Resident Theatre. Photo: Erika Boxler.

HENRY V (PACIFIC RESIDENT THEATRE): 88% – SWEET

SWEET I left the Pacific production in Venice with the feeling that I had just seen a rich and complex tale unfold before my eyes. Don Shirley – LA Observed BITTER In theory, it’s a fascinating concept. But among Henry V’s many virtues is the script’s tight construction. And the cost to the staging’s energy [...]

William Peterson and Rae in "Slowgirl" at the Geffen Playhouse. Photo: Michale Brasilow (courtesy of Steppenwolf Theatre).

SLOWGIRL (GEFFEN): 85% – SWEET

SWEET But Pierce has caught the rhythms of teenage girl-speak, and Gray, a credentialed actress and University of Chicago student (no relation to this reviewer) revels in them. Her wonderfully gravelly voice and quirky delivery make Becky thoroughly entertaining. And the characters’ developing bond despite their differences is touching and persuasive. Margaret Gray – LA [...]

Eagle Young and Kalani Queypo in "Stand-Off at Hwy #37" at the Autry. Photo: Craig Schwartz.

STAND-OFF AT HWY #37: 80% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Although director Jon Lawrence Rivera keeps the polished production — with an appealing set by Jeff McLaughlin, projections by Adam Flemming and sound by Cricket S. Myers — clipping along smoothly, the characters never really develop beyond interesting types. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET Aunt Bev’s exposition as the curtain lifts and before [...]

Jake Silbermann, Malcolm Madera and Robert M. Foster in "Derby Day" at the Elephant Theatre. Photo: Alex Moy.

DERBY DAY: 100% – SWEET

SWEET Silberman, Madera and Foster are to be commended for their ability to share these men first as suited and somewhat upstanding citizens and then take us with them as they sink into the depths of depravity in their souls. Each actor was fully engaged in their characters, even as the many items were thrown [...]

Stephanie Zimbalist and William Reinbold in "Sex and Education" at the Colony Theatre. Photo: Michael Lamont.

SEX AND EDUCATION (COLONY THEATRE): 74% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Although the plot is nearly as implausible as this bald synopsis implies, and although in another play Miss Edwards’ behavior might invite a lawsuit, neither concern, somehow, is obtrusive here. Director Andrew Barnicle establishes a brisk, good-humored pace that enables him to sidestep every sand trap and land mine. Margaret Gray – LA Times [...]

"Firemen" at the Atwater Village Theatre. Photo:

FIREMEN: 93% – SWEET

SWEET Director Chris Fields’ stylishly sleight-of-hand staging (eloquently accented by Matt Richter’s dynamic lights) and a disarmingly appealing ensemble (including Amanda Saunders and Zach Callison) strike just the right balance between uneasy laughter and unpalatable titillation to drive home Smith’s unsettling portrait of a society whose most endangered species may be the moral and emotional [...]

Alex Ximenez, right is visited by Mercy, the death-sensing stray cat controlled by Beatriz Eugenia Vasquez, in "A Cat Named Mercy" at Casa 0101 Theater. Photo: Ed Krieger.

A CAT NAMED MERCY: 71% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER Most of these twists feel forced, hinging on coincidences, abrupt about-faces and even interventions from the spirit world, the cosmology of which remains puzzling. (Kitty is somehow able to learn Catalina’s bank account number from a supernatural source.) Implausibility adds an unintentionally comic note to the heartfelt efforts of director Hector Rodriguez and the [...]

Jennifer Shelton, Lindsey Alley, Marc Ginsburg with Brian Baker on piano in “Let’s Misbehave” at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center. Photo: Suzanne Mapes.

LET’S MISBEHAVE (ICT): 98% – SWEET

SWEET We never learn why these three are so tight to begin with, but who cares if they express their current thoughts and feelings through more than 30 of Porter’s songs? Which they do, with admirable precision and grace. Todd Nielsen directed and choreorgraphed, with musical arrangements by co-conceiver Patrick Young and music supervision by [...]

Jonathan Pessin and Mina Badie in "RX" at the Los Studio. Photo: Michael Lamont.

RX: 94% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET There are consolations, though, in the performances of Michael Dempsey, who plays an ad exec and a scientist (he also adds flair to the frequent set changes on the slapdash set credited to director Pleshette), and Joseph “Sloe” Slawinski’s soundtrack of popular songs enhanced with mood-drug references. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET True, [...]

WALKIN’ IN A WINTER ONE-HIT WONDERLAND (FALCON THEATRE): 86% – SWEET

WALKIN’ IN A WINTER ONE-HIT WONDERLAND (FALCON THEATRE): 86% – SWEET

SWEET Unlike their previous year-end offerings, based either on popular children’s TV specials (The Little Drummer Bowie, A Charlie James Brown Christmas) or on beloved movie hits (It’s A Stevie Wonderful Life, A Christmas Westside Story), Walking In A Winter One-Hit-Wonderland dispenses with storyline, big-cast production numbers, and even its usual second act to simply [...]

Ron West and Joe Liss in "A Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens!" at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Photo: Craig Schwartz.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL: TWIST YOUR DICKENS! (KIRK DOUGLAS): 86% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET As irresponsible as it may be to encourage drinking at this time of year, you are more likely to enjoy “A Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens!” at the Kirk Douglas Theatre if you toss back a few Tiny Tim-tinis or Scroogedrivers at the lobby bar beforehand. And not because your “naughtiest misdeed” — which [...]

GOD’S GYPSY: 49% – BITTER

GOD’S GYPSY: 49% – BITTER

BITTER Daavid, in addition to designing the set, directed the play. But it wasn’t his direction that was at fault. It was the script. If it were cut to 90 minutes, the play might be worth seeing. Mostly, though, the “worth seeing” part is confined to Lili Haydn, a spectacular violinist and composer whose introductory [...]

Todd Robbins in "Play Dead" at the Geffen Playhouse. Photo: Michael Lamont.

PLAY DEAD: 97% – SWEET

SWEET The illusions themselves vary in impressiveness. Maybe not all will blow your mind. It won’t matter. The dark, the gore, the morbid anecdotes — and that eye-twinkle — will put you into a state of nervous excitement like nothing since pre-teen slumber parties. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET In “Play Dead,” there is [...]

Tui Asau, Emily Kuroda, June Kyoko Lu, Takayo Fischer and Jeanne Sakata in "The Nisei Widows Club" at East West Players. Photo: Michael Lamont.

THE NISEI WIDOWS CLUB: HOW TOMI GOT HER GROOVE BACK: 66% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Eventually, the combination of sitcom-style one-liners and pat revelations (“Loss is so hard”; “We take life for granted sometimes.”) with the unfocused, meandering plot risks straining even a favorably disposed audience’s patience. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET Of course, some of the gags sound limp. But in the end, not only Tomi but [...]

Kiara Lisette Gamboa, left, April Adams, Eric Hunicutt and Beverly Hynds in the Zephyr Theatre's "The Pain and the Itch." Photo: Ed Krieger.

THE PAIN AND THE ITCH (ZEPHYR THEATRE): 73% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET Initially provocative, the tart humor grows rancid, the plotting feels heavy-handed and the characters are eviscerated so balefully that you may, defiantly, start to sympathize with them. If you do remember them at your own Thanksgiving table, you will also be glad you didn’t invite Bruce Norris. Margaret Gray – LA Times SWEET While [...]

Melissa Fahn and Kade Pait in "When You Wish: The Story of Walt Disney" at UCLA's Freud Playhouse. Photo: Ed Krieger

WHEN YOU WISH: 61% – BITTERSWEET

BITTERSWEET The score is packed with brisk, pleasant numbers, the leads deliver strong performances, the ensemble is lithe, and Norman Large twinkles in an array of quirky bit parts. Everyone will enjoy the in-jokes, as when Roy, worried about money, remarks of some merchandise samples, “Hey, maybe this stuff could help us.” So maybe we [...]

Anna Khaja, center. Karen Landry, right and Matt Little,in "Falling" at Rogue Machine Theatre. Photo: John Flynn.

FALLING: 100% – SWEET

SWEET When events take an abrupt, fantastical turn, don’t worry: Jent is too sophisticated a writer to give the Martin family an easy way out. Ultimately the clash of irreconcilable values — Tami’s consuming love for Josh versus what she owes the rest of her family — has a spare, nearly Sophoclean power. Although Tami [...]

Jacqueline King, left, Marshall McCabe and Melissa Sullivan in "The Interview" at Studio/Stage. Photo: Steven Gunther.

THE INTERVIEW: 75% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Overall the smart drama entertains: Wyenn fosters an understated style that softens the spikier plot developments, and the performances, particularly Sullivan’s, engage even when they don’t entirely convince. Margaret Gray – LA Times BITTER In breaking the unity of both time and place, Ms. Josephs inadvertently hijacks her own play. After the third or [...]

LaVance Colley, Michael Shepperd, Stu James, and Thomas Hobson in "Smokey Joe's Cafe" at the Pasadena Playhouse. Photo: Kevin Berne.

SMOKEY JOE’S CAFE (PASADENA PLAYHOUSE): 92% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET So: an enjoyable concert, but one that may yield diminishing returns as it goes along for two bouncy but somewhat repetitious hours. Bob Verini – ArtsInLA SWEET “Smokey Joe’s” doesn’t try to fit its 39 songs into a plot, or dilute them with dialogue, and to my surprise I didn’t wish for a more [...]

Katherine Sigismund and Joel J. Gelman in “Gallery Secrets” at the Museum of National History. Photo: Halei Parker.

GALLERY SECRETS (CHALK REP): 100% – SWEET

SWEET Overall, it’s a captivating evening of site-specific theater at one of the most intriguing sites in town. Kurt Gardner – Blog Critics SWEET The audience moves more frequently within each play than in most of last year’s plays — especially in Under the Glass and Prom Season. As someone who occasionally frets about how [...]

THE WIZARD OF OZ (PANTAGES): 69% – BITTERSWEET

THE WIZARD OF OZ (PANTAGES): 69% – BITTERSWEET

BITTER Webber revamp creates a ‘Wizard’ of flaws. Paul Hodgins – OC Register BITTERSWEET If one can look past the cruel and unusual punishment that is what producer Andrew Lloyd Webber has done to the classic fantasy film The Wizard Of Oz, this specific mounting, at L.A.’s Pantages Theatre, is not bad with a cast [...]

Critique of the Week (On a Tuesday)

Critique of the Week (On a Tuesday)

Sorry for the light posting this weekend, LemonHeads, I was out of town tending to family matters. But I’m back. This week’s COWs, though late, are a prime example of how the same show can be viewed in such drastically different ways by two very good critics. Basically it’s a tie for the top prize. [...]

"Women are Crazy Because Men are Assholes" at The Macha Theater. Photo: Company.

WOMEN ARE CRAZY BECAUSE MEN ARE ASSHOLES: 67% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Imagine Sartre coming of age in the era of sitcoms and Prozac: Yes, Hell is other people—and it’s a really funny place. Margaret Gray – LA Times BITTERSWEET As far as the relationships are concerned – there are five couples – there is merely superficial exploration. The characters, with one exception, are exceedingly selfish [...]

John Marzilli, left, and David Ghilardi in "Greeks 6 - Trojans 5" at Whitefire Theatre. Photo: Joel Daavid.

GREEKS 6 – TROJANS 5: 40% – BITTER

BITTER The result is suspense — not for the audience, unfortunately, but for the characters, whom we must watch trotted in and out of cumbersome misunderstandings before, during and even after their quest, until we fear that we are subjects in a sociological experiment designed to test the limits of human civility. Margaret Gray – [...]

Judy Gold in her one-woman show "The Judy Show: My LIfe as a Sitcom" at the Geffen Playhouse's Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater. Photo: Michael Lamont.

THE JUDY SHOW: MY LIFE AS A SITCOM: 67% – BITTERSWEET

SWEET Gold, 50, is an enormously likable performer — except for her flawless comic timing, she could be a mom straight from the carpool line. She plays piano and sings real and made-up sitcom theme songs in an unpretentious bray. She’s sarcastic but not bitter. She doesn’t want to subvert either sitcoms or families — [...]

Jozanne Marie in "Beautiful," produced by the Latino Theater Company at the Los Angeles Theatre Center. Credit: Chaz Photographics.

BEAUTIFUL: 87% – SWEET

BITTERSWEET Directed by Geoff Rivas on a stark proscenium, with shifts in time and place well-illustrated by Patsy McCormack’s crystallizing videography, this is a promising work that still needs pruning, polish and a pacing adjustment. Deborah Klugman – LA Weekly SWEET If, after sharing Marie’s harrowing experiences and luminous catharsis, you still (like me) can’t [...]

Wade McCollum and the ensemble of "Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical,"  at the Pantages Theatre. Credit: BroadwayLA.

PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT: THE MUSICAL: 89% – SWEET

SWEET In fact, the dogged professionalism of the production may both underlie its shortcoming of vision and be its saving grace. The actors, all seasoned veterans, know how to hold the stage and impart the necessary emotional information with broad clarity and touching skill, though depth is pointedly avoided. For a show that is amply [...]